Pigs to the rescue: Invasive species helped save Australia's crocodiles

Despite these adaptations and dietary shifts in apex predators, invasive species still win out. In Australia in 2015, for example, the c...


Despite these adaptations and dietary shifts in apex predators, invasive species still win out. In Australia in 2015, for example, the country’s then-endangered species commissioner told the national channel that “Australia has lost 29 mammals since European settlement, and wild predators are implicated in 28 of those extinctions”.

Florida faces similar invasion problems as it is home to an ideal combination of a subtropical climate, a thriving pet trade, and multiple ports of entry. The result, said Ian Bartoszek, a wildlife biologist with the Southwest Florida Conservatory, is that the state has “more established non-native animal species than any country in the world”. Or, as Dr. Mazzotti said of the Everglades, “I’m preparing to call it Everglades Invasive Reptile National Park.”

Even in the Everglades, there are pockets of good news. As Burmese pythons eat their way through the Evergladesmedium-sized mammals that consume reptile eggs, it’s possible, Bartoszek says, that loggerhead sea turtles and the vulnerable American crocodile could benefit.

The impact on alligators is less clear. Although there’s no data to back it up yet, “It looks like the alligator is holding the line, and the alligator is most likely responsible for more python predation than we have it. awarded,” Bartoszek said. “The python has found its niche in swamps and areas where there are no permanent bodies of water where alligators do not patrol. But in these deeper, more permanent areas of water, the alligator has, I believe, locked onto the python, and is definitely doing us a favor here.

These are, so far, relatively modest victories in the larger effort to combat invasive species. According to Mr. Bartoszek, 47 species of birds, 24 species of mammals and two species of reptiles have been found in the python bellies.

And in the United States, as in Australia, it will take more than crocodiles and alligators to control these pests. Where apex predators feed on invasive species, much remains unclear. “Are there clear examples where a single species can and has benefited from an invasive species? You bet,” Dr. Mazzotti said. “What are the other repercussions? We are much less sure.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Pigs to the rescue: Invasive species helped save Australia's crocodiles
Pigs to the rescue: Invasive species helped save Australia's crocodiles
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